NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Five Israelis accused of gang raping a British woman in a Cyprus hotel room won’t plead to charges including rape, sexual assault and abduction until prosecutors hand over key material including DNA tests, fingerprints and eyewitness testimony, a lawyer said Thursday.
Yannis Habaris, a lawyer representing three of the five Israeli nationals, told The Associated Press that the judge adjourned the trial until Oct. 16 to give the prosecution enough time to give the material to defense lawyers.
Habaris said DNA results, which prosecutors told the court would be ready within 24 hours, are essential in counselling his clients on the best course of action that should be taken for their defense.
He said without that material, which also includes testimony from one witness who was inside the hotel room at the time of the alleged rape, he would not be in a “position to counsel his clients regarding their plea.”
The Israelis will remain in custody in a Paralimni detention center until their next court appearance. Two of the suspects have a new attorney since their original defense counsel is no longer representing them. Many relatives of the suspects, including parents and uncles, were present in the courtroom.
A police investigator said last month that the 20-year-old British woman picked the five Israelis — three aged 19 and two aged 20 — out of a lineup as having raped her during a hotel pool party in the coastal resort town of Ayia Napa.
The woman told police that one of the five men had forcibly taken her to his room after grabbing her hand while she was partying with friends around the pool on Sept. 3.
She said the man tried to remove her bathing suit while she pleaded with him to let her leave. The other suspects then entered the room and one had intercourse with her against her will and another forced her to perform oral sex, while two others held her down on the bed, she said.
She said one suspect also held her against a wall and had intercourse with her.
She said she managed to lock herself in the bathroom and began shouting for help. She was able to flee the room by pushing the suspects aside and rejoined her friends, who went with her to report the incident to police, she said.
Ayia Napa is popular among young tourists from across Europe who enjoy its nightclubs, bars, white-sand beaches and lively nightlife.